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How to Stay Fit during Cold Weather

Winter Exercise Tips: How to work on your fitness when the weather gets cold

by Wasifa Ahmad Hasan

Some people avoid working out when the weather gets colder. However, we like to view the world from a positive side, and the most positive thing about the colder weather is the lack of heat and humidity that usually occurs during the summer. Now, with the cold breeze and fresh mornings, you might even feel more awake and invigorated than in the summer. Plus, in colder temperatures, people tend to work out for longer, which in turn helps burn more calories. And, another positive note – working out in the colder seasons can help you boost your immune system and be more resilient to viruses and bacteria. We know that the only thing you want to do when the colder weather rolls in is to tuck yourself into bed and go back to sleep. However, read these tips to learn how to stay safe and still fit and work on your fitness when the weather gets cold.

How to Stay Fit during Cold Weather:

Layer up

Layering your clothes can be beneficial from multiple standpoints. First, having several layers of clothes will help keep you warm. If you are only starting to work out in the cooler temperatures, chances are you’ll want to take off a layer or two when you feel that you are warm enough. But don’t give in to that temptation. If you take off the clothes that you have, the heat will leave your body, and the sweat in your lower layers will make you feel even colder than if you weren’t working out. However, you don’t want to put too many layers on yourself and end up soaking wet from sweating. That can also be dangerous, because it will cool down your body temperature as soon as you slow down the pace of your workout, resulting in the possibility to hurt yourself. Who would have thought so many rules are around simply dressing to go work out, huh? 

Suggested read: How 3 minutes of exercise a day can make a difference for your entire lifetime

Another point to make is what kind of gear you’ll be needing for an outdoor workout. Fabrics such as polypropylene are breathable and they will let the excess heat out, keeping the necessary heat in. Also, it might be a good idea to wear gloves and beanies, especially if you are working out while the sun is not out yet, or already down, and it is windy outside. 

Dress warm, not only in layers

Having layers is not enough if you wear the wrong fabrics. You may think that wool and cotton are great choices for working out in the cold weather, but you might think twice after this. Wool and cotton are both highly absorbing materials, and they will absorb moisture from the inside as well as from the outside. If you sweat, these fabrics will absorb the moisture and it will cool down your body and you may risk hypothermia. The same goes for the outer elements, like rain, snow, mist, fog or whatever weather condition that has humidity in it. Your woolen or cotton gear will absorb the humidity from the outside and let in, cooling your body from the outside in. 

Another thing to keep in mind is your extremities. In cooler temperatures, the blood flow tends to go to the center of your body, leaving less blood for your hands and fingers, feet and toes, and nose. If you are not careful enough, you may even end up with frostbites. 

A smart choice would be to bring a reusable water bottle with you and sip small gulps of water during your workout. If you plan on working out for more than 90 minutes, switch to a sports drink that contains electrolytes to help you keep up. Another thing, don’t overdo it. No matter how much water you take in, your body can only take as much – the rest will likely go out through sweat. You will end up being sweaty and cold, instead of dry and hydrated.

Warm-ups are necessary

In the cold, everything gets stiffer, including our joints. Therefore, we need the warm-up to get our body ready to work out. If we don’t do the warming-up exercises or at least stretches, the risk of getting injured gets higher. There are two types of warm-ups for colder weather, and both are done while you are still inside. One type is to do dynamic stretches, i.e. to move your body through a full range of motion, constantly moving it, instead of doing static stretches. The other type of workout is to do a mini- version of your workout while still inside. So, for example, if you plan on going to the park to do a boot camp workout, start by doing some crunches, squats, push-ups and whatever else you might have planned for 5-10 minutes, before heading out. That way, you are making sure your body is fully ready to exercise without getting hurt. 

You can also read: Tips to Stay Healthy When the Weather Gets Colder

Mind the weather

Not every weather is ideal for every type of outdoor workout. Extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow blizzard, are a good excuse not to work out outside. However, there are certain things you can do. If you are a runner, the only thing you need to keep safe from is the wind. If it is windy, run with the wind, to avoid getting frostbite. Frostbite can occur even after 30 minutes, so it is very important to be aware of the indications. If you feel tingling or numbness at any point, pause your running and go inside to warm up. 

If you are a cyclist, the only thing you need to keep safe from is the rain. Fall is known to have lots of rain, that is why you should go and use every dry day to work out on your bicycle. You can leave your annual bicycle maintenance for winter and snowy weather, but for now, take it for a spin every time the weather allows it. 

If you are a hiker or just like to go speed walking, the only thing you need to be careful of is ice and slippery surfaces. To avoid the risk of falling and injuring yourself, put spikes on your workout shoes. That will help you maintain traction and reduce the risk of falling, slipping, or otherwise hurting yourself. Keep in mind that the spikes are designed to pierce ice and snow, and avoid pavement, because you may lose balance and fall after all. 


You may think dehydration is the summer’s problem. And if you are, you are wrong. Cold air is dryer than warm air, and you can dehydrate much easier than in the warmer temperatures. You sweat when working out, whether summer or winter outside, meaning that you lose fluids through sweat. You may not notice it right away, or think that it is less than when you are working out in the summer, but you still need to drink lots of fluids.

Also, worth mentioning is that being thirsty is not the best indicator of needing to drink water. If you feel like your lips are getting patchy, or your throat is getting soar or even dry – it can all be an indicator that you need to hydrate. It can also be an indicator that you are walking/running up the wind and that you should change the direction to preserve strength.


Indoor workouts

Considering all the above, maybe the best advice we can give you is to try to stay motivated to work out even in the harshest of weather conditions, by working out inside. Depending on what you want to achieve, try to find the perfect exercise combination for your body type, level of fitness and goals. There are many different indoor activities that can substitute outdoor ones for a short period of time. There are group activities, such as yoga, pilates, Zumba or cross-fit. If you are not the one for socializing while working out, you can always go to the gym and run on the treadmill while there’s a blizzard outside. And if you have a home gym, you don’t even need to go anywhere – you can just go to the machines and start with your workout.

However, if you do not own a home gym, you can try some of these exercises. For your upper body, try pull-ups, push-ups, seated rows, or dips. For your core, try the plank exercise, sit-ups, and crunches. For the lower body, lunges, air squats and wall sits are beneficial. And for a full-body workout, deadlifts are perfect. If your level of fitness is low or medium, we suggest avoiding deadlifts, to avoid the risk of getting hurt. 

Being motivated to work out in the colder weather is almost as difficult as actually working out. However, we saw that there are multiple positive sides to working out in the cold – from better circulation to less energy spending. We hope you will find your inner motivation to work out this winter, just remember to be careful not to hurt yourself!

Do you work out? How do you stay fit during cold weather? Share with us below!

How to Stay Fit during Cold Weather
About the Guest Blogger:

Sarah Jessica Smith is a young blogger from Sydney. She is in love with life and all the things that can make her daily routine easier. She loves to write about home improvement, lifestyle, and all the small things that make life such a great adventure.

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